If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, especially if it’s a recent diagnosis, you may be wondering how it will change your day-to-day life. The good news is that as the number of people diagnosed with hearing loss has grown and technology has advanced, the options available to support those with hearing loss have grown. This means, with the right tools on hand, especially at home, navigating your day may be easier than ever. Hearing loss becomes more common
According to the Hearing Health Foundation, an estimated 48 million Americans of all ages report trouble hearing. When experts break that down, it means:
Almost 50% of people ages 75+
Nearly 33% of people between ages 65-74
Almost 15% of people between ages 45 and 64
8 million people between ages 18 and 44
That means millions of Americans, many with previously normal hearing, now diagnosed with hearing loss and living in a world that is designed for the hearing.
Thankfully, simple changes in the home can help those with hearing loss adapt and thrive. Home technology for hearing loss
While there are numerous options now to support individuals with hearing loss, including advanced hearing aids, assistive listening devices and even apps for everything under the sun, tools like these are an important consideration for the home:
Specialized alarm clocks – If you follow your hearing health care professional’s recommendations, you’ll remove and clean your hearing aids before bed, then leave them out and open to allow any built-up moisture to escape. That’s a smart strategy to maintain your hearing aid and hearing aid batteries, but if you need to hear an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, then what? Opt for a specialized alarm clock that uses light, a vibration of the bed or a watch on the wrist, extra loud sound or even a particularly strong smell to wake you up.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for the hearing impaired – Similar to alarm clocks, these specialized detectors use alternative notifications to keep you safe. These include strobe light alerts, vibration, increased volume or varying tones. Many of these options can also be connected to in-home alert systems that notify you of emergencies such as severe weather as well as fire.
Doorbells that connect – Doorbell technology has moved well beyond the simple old buzzers. That’s true for everyone, not just those with hearing loss. There are now plenty of WiFi-connected options that connect to other devices in the home. They can notify with an extra loud sound, lights and even screens around the house showing that someone is at the door or approaching your home. Prefer something that’s not so connected? Simple doorbells that flash or use higher volume are also available for those with hearing loss.
Telephones – Whether it’s a traditional landline or your cellphone, consider options such a captioning phone or captioning app to help you maintain communication with hearing loss. Speech-to-text apps are another option. Many of today’s hearing aids also connect directly with phones via Bluetooth to make phone conversations more comfortable than ever.
Outfit your home to support your hearing loss with technology like this to make your everyday life easier.
If you have questions or believe you may need hearing aids to treat hearing loss, contact our office to schedule an appointment.
Whether you’re a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community or just want to make sure you never miss important dialogue in your favorite flick, closed captioning is incredibly popular with many. In fact, a recent survey by 3PlayMedia found that 98% of recipients watched movies with closed captioning turned on! By giving those with normal and damaged hearing alike the ability to read and experience sound and participate in healthy social interactions, it’s clear why closed captioning is such a hit. Thanks to laws such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, official state and federal government videos, along with network TV programs, must have “accurate, synchronous, complete, and properly placed” captions, but what about online video? With new-age audiovisual media such as streaming services like Netflix, laws have yet to regulate captioning on the web. Ensuring access to closed captioning across all platforms is critical to avoiding barriers to auditory information, raising our quality of life, and decreasing social and emotional consequences.
The Numbers Are In, Closed Captions Are Used For More Than Hearing Loss
After discovering its popularity, 3PlayMedia’ survey dove even further into demographics, discovering who uses closed captions and why. What they found had further compounded the importance of universal access to these services. Captions were used by virtually everyone for a wide array of reasons, ranging from hearing loss to keeping focus. After crunching the numbers, 25% of respondents utilized captions for hearing loss purposes, while 75% of respondents used captions for other reasons unrelated to hearing damage, showing that captions do not only aid our hard of hearing community but the general public.
How Lack of Access Can Do Harm
For those suffering from hearing loss, there are social and emotional consequences that arise with a lack of access to auditory information. Participation in social interactions can plummet due to difficulty following along with conversations or fear of “being a bother” to friends and family, leading to depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Just like a conversation, watching movies or TV shows can be a social experience often done with friends and family. Without closed captioning, audiovisual information is withheld from those with hearing loss, excluding them from the social experience.
How does one participate in an equal society if they are excluded from social experiences? That’s what the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) argued after filing a lawsuit against streaming giant Netflix in 2011. Due to Netflix’s lack of closed captioning, the NAD argued they were not only violating the ADA, but treating the deaf community unequally. Thankfully, the district judge had ruled in favor of closed captioning marking serious progress for required captions, though many platforms such as Facebook and YouTube remain unregulated. With entertainment becoming increasingly digital, it is simply not enough to mandate captions for government programming or news alerts. Information will remain lost in translation until access to closed captioning is expanded to everyone, regardless of their hearing capabilities.
We schedule yearly physical exams and dental exams, so why not schedule annual hearing testing? Hearing loss is gradual, and it affects not only your ability to hear but your physical and mental health too. Yearly hearing evaluations should be a part of your regular healthcare routine. If you are putting off a hearing evaluation, please consider some great reasons why you should schedule that test today!
Hearing Loss Is A Gradual Process
Hearing loss typically occurs at a slow pace over the course of many years. Because of this gradual process, it is difficult to detect when your hearing is not as good as it used to be. People with hearing loss typically wait 7 to 10 years before they address the hearing loss. An annual hearing evaluation by a hearing healthcare professional will detect any hearing loss so you can act before the problem exacerbates. You should monitor your hearing as well to identify hearing loss in your daily life. Indications include the following:
Trouble hearing phone
Difficulty hearing conversations
Ask people to repeat themselves
Sounds and voices seem muffled
Difficulty pinpointing the direction of a sound
Early Detection Is Critical
Putting off a hearing test for 7 to 10 years is not a good idea. An annual hearing evaluation will allow you the chance to address your hearing loss early before the problem worsens. It is essential to check your hearing annually after age 55, even if you experience no problems because this is the time most people begin to experience age-related hearing loss.
People of all ages experience hearing loss, and the chances that you will experience change in your hearing over time are high. Here are a few statistics to consider:
5% of American children have permanent hearing damage from exposure to loud noise.
14% of American adults between the ages of 45 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss.
30-40% of American adults over the age of 65 have hearing loss.
50% of American adults over the age of 75 have some hearing loss.
It is essential to take hearing loss seriously. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Heart disease, dementia, sleep apnea, and brain shrinkage all have a connection to hearing loss.
Schedule A Hearing Evaluation Today
Hearing loss will interfere with your life much quicker than you might realize. You may find yourself having trouble at work, not hearing your loved ones, or even enjoying the sounds of nature. Do something for your hearing today. Schedule an annual hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional and protect your hearing before it is too late!
Healthcare is evolving. Holistic views of treating the whole person are gaining ground. The days of treating single isolated symptoms and health concerns without considering other systems of the body may soon be numbered.
A more holistic approach is now being explored by the Institute of Health Improvement (IHI) as a way to optimize the performance of our health system. That includes connecting interprofessional healthcare teams, including hearing healthcare providers, to provide optimal care to patients. Improving health with team care
The Institute of Health Improvement is moving forward with an initiative to optimize healthcare in the United States. This approach is called the Quadruple Aim and includes four components:
Improving the health of populations
Enhancing the patient experience of care
Reducing the per capita cost of health care
Improving the work conditions of health care clinicians and staff
To do this, the IHI is exploring how best to connect health practitioners across disciplines. Hearing healthcare providers on the team
There is no doubt that hearing is closely connected to so many other systems of the body. It has been linked to cardiovascular health, cognitive decline, diabetes, and moreover the years. In some cases, hearing loss is a symptom or early indicator of chronic disease, and sometimes a chronic disease is a cause of hearing loss. In other cases, hearing ability is found to be closely connected with acute health problems in one way or another. Either way, having a hearing healthcare professional on your healthcare team could prove invaluable when it comes to care and outcomes.
The Institute of Health Improvement began exploring just this solution in 2018 with a survey of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Audiology Advisory Council. A 20-question online survey was completed by 104 members of ASHA’s Advisory Councils focusing on interprofessional work and education. The survey found:
Almost 70% of those surveyed had engaged in interprofessional activity within the past 18 months.
Audiologists reported engaging in interprofessional practice more often than in interprofessional education.
Audiologists most frequently reported serving as team members in interprofessional teams, working most frequently with otolaryngologists, nurses, social workers, and SLPs.
Those surveyed also shared the benefits of interprofessional team collaborations they had seen including:
Consensus building across professions for difficult treatment decisions
Coordinated care for patients
Streamlined treatment planning for patients
The results underscore the importance of hearing healthcare professionals as part of an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive and effective care to patients. Where we go from here
Healthcare is changing, and surveys like this help to confirm the value of switching to a more connected and collaborative approach to healthcare. Hearing healthcare professionals such as audiologists play a vital role in this care that is only now becoming truly appreciated. They are able to identify acute health concerns and chronic disease early thanks to routine hearing evaluations and examinations for complaints such as dizziness or ringing in the ears and refer patients to other members of their healthcare team for further examination and treatment.
As hearing is so connected to many systems of the body, so should hearing healthcare providers be closely connected to other healthcare providers to offer the best outcomes for their patients.
Hearing loss is the number one congenital disability in the United States. Whether the hearing loss is congenital or an acquired hearing loss, the consequences of hearing loss can be devastating if left untreated. Even a slight hearing loss can cause speech and language delays that are considered to be educationally significant. These children can have emotional difficulties, perform poorly in school and can suffer from personal-social maladjustments. A child hearing screening is an essential tool in dealing with the loss of hearing. The school hearing screening’s impact on hearing loss is the subject of a new study.
Children in North Carolina receive screenings only before the beginning of public school. This practice goes against the recommendations of several organizations guidelines that suggest testing throughout multiple grades. Because of this, hearing loss may go untreated in many children. Because of the potential negative impact of hearing loss on auditory learning and communication, researchers are looking at the effects that screening procedures have on outcomes.
1.181 children in grades kindergarten through ninth grade received a screening at a charter school during the fall of 2016. Two years after this, 862 children in grades kindergarten through eighth grade underwent testing to replicate the previous study findings and to collect additional data if possible. Two hearing healthcare professionals, two speech-language pathologists, and a large group of graduate students took part. The protocol for the screening includes:
All children in the study receive a screening at 1, 2, 4, and 6 kHz at 20 dB HL with a minimum of two stimuli before recording a response or no response to the stimuli.
The children who fail at least one frequency receive rescreening at 20 dB as a check for reliability. The examiners remove the headphones and reinstruct the child.
Any failure to respond at one or more frequencies in either ear is a failure at 25 dB HL.
A rescreening of children within three weeks by a clinician who is not familiar with the initial results will need scheduling and a referral for a diagnostic evaluation if they do not pass the rescreening is also a possibility.
A hearing healthcare professional will administer otoscopy and tympanometry on all children who fail the initial screening.
According to the conclusions of the study, a comparable number of children failed the screenings for pure tone in 2016 and 2018. This finding suggests that the results are replicable. All of the children failing the rescreening were part of distribution across grades with the majority of failures concentrated in third grade in 2016 and fifth grade in 2018. The otoscopy and tympanometry findings were abnormal in four percent of the children in the 2016 screening and three percent in the 2018 testing. Those students passing the pure tone rescreening at 25 dB received a referral for medical intervention. The results indicate that the screening criterion increases the failure rate of the initial screening.
The study indicates that a school-wide hearing screening can identify more children with potential hearing loss. More research should take place to recommend universal screening criteria. Although the authors recommend diagnostic testing following a screening, the study indicates that parents are not prone to follow up even when the testing is free. These and other barriers to compliance must receive exposure.
We all experience water in our ears from time to time. It happens during baths and showers and is very common for swimmers. However, it can lead to inflammation and infection of the ear canal. The most common cause of the infection is bacteria such as streptococcus, pseudomonas, and staphylococcus. Water in the ear is aggravating and can also be harmful to your hearing health. Here is what you can do about water in your ears.
The symptoms of water in the ear begin mild with itching and a slight redness within the infected ear. The problem gradually gets worse with an increase in pain and itching as well as discharge from the ear. Ultimately the pain becomes intense, the canal is completely blocked, and the face and possibly the lymph nodes begin to swell.
Removing Water From Your Ear
If you have water in your ear, here are ways for safely removing the irritating liquid:
Jiggle your earlobe. You might be able to shake the water from your ear by gently pulling on the earlobe and shaking.
Use gravity. Lie on your side and let the water slowly drain from your ear onto a towel.
Create a vacuum. Tilt head sideways and rest ear into cupped palm. Push hand back and forth in rapid motion while covering the ear cupping your palm as you pull away.
Hot compress. Applying a compress can release the water trapped in the eustachian tubes.
Blow dryer. Set the dryer on the lowermost setting and hold about a foot away from the ear. The heat from the dryer can help to evaporate the water inside the ear canal.
Apply a few drops per ear. Alcohol helps to evaporate water. It also helps to eradicate the growth of bacteria, which in turn helps to prevent infections.
Hydrogen peroxide. This solution can clear debris and earwax which may be trapping water inside the ear.
Olive oil. Warm olive oil and place a few drops in the ear. It can help to prevent infection in the ear as well as repel water out.
The movement of the mouth can open the eustachian tubes and let the stuck water come out.
Valsalva maneuver. Close mouth and gently squeeze your nostrils shut with fingers while listening for a popping sound which means the Eustachian tubes are open.
Warm steam helps to release water from the middle ear through Eustachian tubes.
OTC medication. OTC eardrops are alcohol-based and can help to reduce moisture in the outer ear canal. They also kill bacteria and remove debris.
Of course, the best way to handle ears clogged with water is through prevention. Here are a few measures to take in the prevention of water and the bacteria it contains, from entering your ears:
Avoid swimming in contaminated pools
Wear a swim cap
Dry ears thoroughly once out of water
Remember that water in the ear is usually not dangerous, but if left unaddressed, the following problems may occur:
Temporary hearing loss
Deep tissue infection
Bone and cartilage damage
Other widespread diseases.
If you have any additional questions about hearing loss or your hearing health, please feel free to contact our office!
When we’re young, we attend music classes in school. It helps us learn to remember words, develop patterns, express ourselves in front of others, even come up with new ideas on our own. For hearing impaired children, attending music classes could be even more imperative to their early childhood education.
Many youngsters who are born with or develop auditory problems at a young age fall behind other kids in many areas. It’s difficult to assist them in a large classroom setting so they’re then segregated with other kids in the same developmental stage in order to give them the one on one help they need to catch up.
This can cause them to feel like they are different from other kids. They may have other learning or social issues that prohibit them from being involved with regular activities. Athletic events are often a problem since balance is directly controlled within the inner ear.
With the addition of musical activities, it evens the odds somewhat for these children in the areas of speech, language, and even social skills. Through playschool type activities, children equipped with cochlear implants have been assessed and demonstrated that learning through musical activity enhances early childhood education.
Singing, in particular, aids in speech and language skills of these youngsters by helping to develop a sense of their ability to manipulate different rhythms and pitches. It also allows them to learn in a fun and upbeat atmosphere where noise and activity are not viewed as stressful. It’s a place they enjoy coming back to. This is makes it much easier for them to take in things going on around them as well.
While it’s important for children to be involved in these activities as soon as possible, it’s also imperative for the parents to understand the process being taught. Since they spend the most time with their child, it’s only logical to teach them the skills to incorporate this training in their normal environment.
By following up with this type of music therapy at home, kids can have a much greater advantage and the ability to catch up and keep up with others their age. Learning must be fun for them, or they won’t want to interact with the process. If you can make it a positive, upbeat, and rewarding experience, they will thrive and excel in not only their own communication skills, but in recognition of what others are saying around them.
Because children with hearing impairments have lapses in their learning in the areas of auditory attention, memory, and perception, they struggle to detect speech patterns, phonemes, and sound location. Studies on learning through music have shown that rehabilitation through this method have shown improvement in all of these areas as well as overall hearing in general.
Children fitted with cochlear implants stand a good chance of improving their auditory skills through music learning or hobbies involving music. Researchers at the University of Helsinki were able to study children with cochlear implants and their findings showed that, “Hearing impaired children with cochlear implants who sing regularly have better perception of speech in noise compared to children who don’t sing. This is an important skill in day care or school where children discuss and receive instructions in noisy conditions,” Dr. Ritva Torppa PhD says.
She also says that, “Communication skills and especially the ability to perceive speech in noise have a vital importance in education. All children, but especially children with a hearing impairment, should have the possibility to learn music and especially singing.”
As a parent, becoming involved in your child’s learning experience is so important. The involvement of the entire family supports this teaching method and helps it to become a tool that can come in handy in your child’s future development. It also acts as a bonding activity and shows them you are part of their support network.
Research done in Finland was particularly effective, especially with their cultures’ high esteem for music. But don’t let the distance from this rich culture keep you from finding a program that will benefit your child’s learning. Daycares, playschools, and preschool settings are all influential areas that you can explore, and the musical advantages that can be helpful learning tools.
Through careful research and the help of your child’s audiologist, you can find out what options are available in your area for music related learning. School programs and programs for the hearing impaired are also helpful areas to inquire when your seeking help in this field.
With all the advantages involved in music play programs, your child will have the opportunity to get ahead of the group, or at least advance right alongside of them. Music supports learning in so many ways, but it’s incredibly beneficial for those growing up with auditory impairments.
In order to give your child the best chance, consult with your audiologist today to see what is available in your area.